News from last night

Well, after two years, at last night’s Fort Atkinson City Council meeting, I passed the president’s gavel back to the very capable hands of Councilman Paul Kotz. I was very honored to have been given the privilege of serving as council president for two consecutive years.
 
We also wished farewell to Councilman Davin Lescohier, who served as a steady hand on the council for the past 10 years. It is quite an accomplishment to serve in any elected office that long, and one worthy of all our thanks.
 
We got some very important things done over these past two years, particularly completing our city’s 10 year Comprehensive Plan Update, planning for an overhaul of our fire station, coming up with a concept plan for the K-Mart area, completely a rental housing study, and much more.
 
We weren’t able to make everything happen that we wanted (more business in the Klement Business Park remains a big goal, to name one), but we’ll keep trying.
 
The rest of the council decided to elect me as president pro tem for this coming year. I’m looking forward to continuing to work with our very capable city council, including our newest member, Chris Scherer, as we focus on issues like housing, economic development, and much more. Thank you for entrusting the five of us to guide the city. I will personally keep listening to all of you, and I appreciate your support.
president plaque

Don’t wait for a Target

Today’s blog post isn’t one I’m excited to write, but it’s one that is necessary.

We have a very well intentioned individual in our community, who has been circulating a petition, asking for Target to build a store in Fort Atkinson. I am thrilled that someone was willing to take the initiative to do this, and I share in their spirit of wanting to see fresh retail economic development in Fort Atkinson, especially with the impending closure of our local Shopko location.

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However, I do not want to give residents a false hope that Target will be coming to Fort Atkinson. Here is a portion of an email our city manager received late last week, from Target’s Regional Real Estate Director.

Target’s new store growth strategy is focused on opening small format stores in the Top 10-12 metropolitan markets, and adding small format stores to key campuses and universities across the country.  While we still have a full-format new store program, these stores are only being opened in key strategic markets.

We continually monitor markets to understand changes in employment and population, new housing growth, shifts in retail nodes and retail competition, etc. … Unfortunately, many trade areas just don’t have large enough populations to support a store.

Kmart and Shopko store strategies reached into smaller and more rural areas – a strategy that Target never pursued.  While Fort Atkinson is a vibrant community, it’s population at 17,000 won’t support a store.

[Editor note: The 17,000 population figure includes townships surrounding Fort Atkinson.]

So there you have it. The reality is that Target won’t be coming to Fort Atkinson, at least for the foreseeable future.

I remain firmly convinced that future development in our city will be largely driven by individuals who already live and work in our community. While our city manager and I have been contacting various companies (we have reached out to approximately 25 different retailers), we have not received very promising responses thus far. This doesn’t mean we won’t keep trying.

I remain firmly committed to finding retail partners for our community. Fort Atkinson residents deserve to have varied shopping options. Let’s keep working together to come up with local solutions to this problem.